Last week the CBC radio ran a 20 minute documentary about Freshkills Park. To listen, click the link below.
Last week the CBC radio ran a 20 minute documentary about Freshkills Park. To listen, click the link below.
In mid-August, Freshkills Park staff and interns conducted the annual monitoring of the North Park Wetland Restoration. Each year we record how the native plants are doing, whether any invasive plant species are coming back in, and what kinds of wildlife are using the restored site.
The North Park Wetland Restoration was completed in 2013 and encompasses 1.8 acres in the northeast corner of North Park, along Main Creek and next to the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. The site had previously been overrun with Phragmites australis, an invasive reed. As part of the restoration efforts, goats were used to clear the invasive plants, and the land was re-sloped to match the nearby wetland shoreline elevations. A native plant palette of both low marsh and high marsh species was then planted.
We’ve been able to show that the native plantings are thriving, and important wildlife are using the site. For example, this year we spotted muskrat burrows and wading birds, and in past years we’ve seen evidence of diamondback terrapin turtles.
There are permanent transects established at the site, which ensures that we’re making accurate comparisons from year to year of the same areas. We stretch a measuring tape from the shoreline up to permanent stakes that mark the transects, and then use a quadrat (which is basically a PVC square of a set size) at locations along the transect to take measurements within it. These measurements include variables such as stem height, plant species present, percentage of ground cover, and any signs of wildlife. From these measurements we can make comparisons to previous years and observe how the restoration plantings are faring and how the site is changing over time.
This year’s environmental monitoring interns were Jocelyn Zorn and Josephine Hill-James. Each year, our environmental monitoring interns really help us out by assisting during the actual monitoring, analyzing the results, and writing up the report. We’re lucky to have this assistance in continuing to monitor this restoration at Freshkills Park.
It’s important to assess how wetland restorations such as this one are performing in the years following the restoration work. Otherwise, it’s hard to be sure which techniques are really working and which aren’t. It’s also important to see if something isn’t working so that we can take mitigating action, like removing Phragmites australis that may be moving back in. Wetland habitats are crucial for flood control, water filtration, and for a host of species that rely on them for their habitat. We are working to preserve the wetland areas that we have, and to figure out ways to make them more resilient and productive habitats.
The restoration itself was funded by a grant from the New York Department of State’s Office of Coastal, Local Government & Community Sustainability, as part of the Environmental Protection Fund.
Community visioning for South Park at Freshkills Park has begun. This section of the park will receive $30 million through New York City’s Anchor Parks program to provide new access and amenities, and visioning is the first step in developing a plan for what will be constructed. In spite of torrential rain, 80 people attended the November 30 visioning session at the Jewish Community Center in Staten Island to learn about the initiative and discuss their ideas for South Park.
The Anchor Parks program is a major investment in five large, diverse parks across the city. One park in each borough – St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Freshkills Park in Staten Island, Astoria Park in Queens, and Highbridge Park in Manhattan – will receive funding for major capital advancements. This fall, NYC Parks has scheduled meetings in communities closest to each Anchor Park to get input on what they would like to see in these areas.
At the November 30th meeting, Staten Island Borough Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone welcomed everyone and introduced Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, who provided remarks about the impact this initiative will have on communities surrounding South Park. Deputy Borough President Ed Burke was also present and talked about the importance of active recreation. Adrian Smith, Staten Island Team Leader for the Capital Projects Division, gave a presentation about the project and shared possible sites within South Park to build new amenities. Smith also explained some of the environmental and regulatory issues that were considered as part of the site and amenity selection process. For example, because Freshkills Park is being built on a former landfill, landfill safety features must remain untouched. The new park should connect to Owl Hollow Soccer Fields and its design should take into consideration traffic on Arthur Kill Road and Arden Avenue, as well as any potential effects on adjacent neighborhoods, such as traffic or excess light.
After the presentation, small groups of community members worked with facilitators, note takers, and maps to discuss what they would like to see at the project site. Many people indicated they would like to see multipurpose trails for running, hiking, and biking that connect with Owl Hollow Soccer Fields and nearby trails. There was also a high level of support for softball and cricket fields. A number of participants wanted to see gathering spaces for people of all ages, such as an amphitheater or sitting areas along the pathways. Safety was a big concern, and many people voiced an interest in having new park areas developed farther away from the traffic on Arden Avenue and Arthur Kill Road. Parking lots and a comfort station were also big priorities.
If you didn’t make it to the meeting or if you would like to submit additional comments, you can share your thoughts online until December 14. Visit www.nyc.gov/parks/input. Comments from the community will be submitted to landscape architects Starr Whitehouse, and another meeting will be scheduled this winter for the public to review the conceptual plan.
Thanks to Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, Congressman Donovan Representative Pat Ryan, Council Member Matteo Representative Rose Kourani, Council Member Borelli Representative Michelle Landi, and Assembly Member Castorina Representative Rick Livan for attending and showing support for the project.
This is a tentative project. Not all proposed projects will become active projects. To learn more about proposed projects, visit our How We Build Parks page.
Painting by Sarah Yuster
Remembering Richard P. Buegler
Richard P.”Dick” Buegler, a founder of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and its president for nearly 30 years, a man who dedicated his life to environmental education and natural areas protection on Staten Island, died last Saturday, November 5, at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where he lived with his wife Toni for some years. He was 88 years old. Our condolences to his dedicated and loving wife, Toni, and to his son David and daughter Susan and their families on this irreparable loss to our close community.
I am humbled to have been asked by Protectors President Cliff Hagen to write a brief remembrance of Dick’s life and work. Dick has been honored by the numerous citations he has received from elected officials over the years and he has well deserved the recognition and praise bestowed on him by respected national environmental organizations. Any park or bluebelt on Staten Island would be a suitable testimony to his tireless efforts at preserving and improving the natural world around us. And, most assuredly, Clay Pits Pond State Park Preserve will stand as a monument to his preservation efforts.
I think that I am among the few people who have known Dick Buegler the longest. Dick has been an influence in my life for 40 years, the majority of my life, ever since he stood up in front of my high school biology class at New Dorp and discussed PCBs, or the Krebs cycle, or the finer points about dissecting a shark. Mr. Buegler, as he was known to me then, instilled in me the fundamental notion that the environment is the product of interdependent systems sublimely in balance, that we are responsible for the environment, and that if we take without giving in return, we risk disturbing that balance to our harm. Later, after I graduated from college, I reconnected with Dick on Greenbelt walks and soon began implementing much of the ideas he taught me, leading me ultimately to join Protectors and serve as Vice President and later as President. Dick’s goal has always been to educate people enough so that ideas translate into action. A better understanding and appreciation for the natural world begets a determination to fight for the preservation of natural areas and the environment.
Dick explained his philosophy about creating a purposeful life and developing an active environmental consciousness in 2004 when he wrote: “Most of us consider walks, tours, hikes and such to be pleasant recreation, but most of you attend those events for more serious reasons than a day out in the fresh air. We are learning to appreciate the natural environment and developing our own environmental ethic. As we see destruction around, natural areas being obliterated and environmental degradation occurring, our presence on walks and activities in the natural environment makes a statement that we care. Yes, we care.
We care about wildlife and plants, trees, shrubs and wildflowers, the birds and the insects. We want to leave a heritage of a healthy natural environment for those after us. We are constantly learning how much a part of the natural environment we are. We find out that our own actions add to the earth’s distress. We consume fuel, food, natural products, even the air and water of our planet, and none of us—certainly not Protectors—feel that we are entitled to as much as we want. So we try to drive less, walk and bicycle more, reduce our consumption of excess foods and avoid foods and other natural products that are responsible for the degradation of the communities where they are grown.”
And in another place he summed it up as follows: “As Protectors members, we have a very deep concern for our natural environment, a dedication toward preservation of unprotected natural areas and a willingness to work persistently towards protection of native woodlands, wetlands and previously designated parklands.”
Dick has passed into memory now. And it is incumbent upon each of us, whoever was touched by his generous and patient mentoring, whoever witnessed his effective leadership and ability to shape discourse to serve a greater common good, to remember the man he was and further his life’s work. For Dick is not truly gone if the work he dedicated the better part of his adult life to endures and bears fruit through us, for as long as we remember him.
Dick had tremendous gratitude for you, our Protectors’ members, and he more than once remarked that your dedication and commitment were key factors to our numerous successes. Protectors of Pine Oak Woods is Dick’s legacy and his memorial. May we carry its mission further and with it the name of Richard P. Buegler.
I hear the ringing call he used to gather us together on the trail: “Eye-eh-la! Eye-eh-la!” There he is, just ahead and around the bend, quietly waiting to see if I will spot and identify the rare trailside orchid he has found. Just a second, Dick, I nearly have it, just a second while I consult my Newcomb’s. I see and absorb the simple and pure joy he conveys in that consummate interaction with Nature. How will you remember Dick?
PPOW/HEP Work Shop – Wednesday, July 20th – 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Blue Heron Park
Designated as an Estuary of National Significance under the Clean Water Act, the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary is a complex ecological system in the midst of a major urban center. The NY-NJ HEP was authorized in 1987 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs in the country. HEP is an ongoing effort to protect, conserve, and restore the estuary though a management conference composed of representatives from local, state, and federal government; scientists; business; and civic organizations. The Hudson River Foundation (HRF) seeks to make science integral to decision-making with regard to the Hudson River and its watershed and to support competent stewardship of this extraordinary resource. This purpose is pursued through support of scientific research; communication to expand knowledge about the river among the scientific community, policy makers, and the public at large; initiatives to enhance management of the Hudson ecosystem; education about the River; and physical improvements to the riverfront.
HEP is engaging in a public participation process in anticipation of the release of its 5-year action agenda. HEP’s 5-year action agenda will guide the government agencies, utilities, civic organizations, and scientists that comprise HEP to establish common programmatic, research, and funding priorities. The goal of the public participation process, which includes these workshops in addition to web-based survey tools and outreach at public events, is to ensure that HEP’s programmatic priorities for the Harbor Estuary are aligned with the needs of watershed communities.
Protectors of Pine Oak Woods is partnering with HEP to co-host a public workshop designed to identify the priorities of the public, local government, community organizations and other stakeholders throughout the estuary. Situated at the epicenter of HEP’s core area, Staten Island is a critical location along the Hudson River estuary and we need to have a voice in the decisions being made about the waters off our shore. Our public workshop will be held Wednesday, July 20, from 7:00pm till 9:00 pm. For more information contact Cliff Hagen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-313-8591.
In a filled room at LiGreci’s Staatten, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods celebrated their 40th anniversary on September 20th reaping the good wishes and congratulations from elected officials and community leaders and listening to the stories, memories, and hard earned accomplishments from the trailblazers and friends of the organization.
Ellen Pratt, a long-time member and conservationist, was quite fittingly the honoree at the 40th anniversary event giving Protectors an opportunity to recognize her decades long contributions to preserving the open space jewels that so distinctively make up our community.
The event, covered by NY1 News, was opened with a welcome by President Clifford Hagen who thanked all those who have made Protectors 40 years strong! The continuing program included remarks from Ellen Pratt after receiving her honor and special guest remarks from community leaders and governmental agency representatives who have worked with the organization over the years including Jane Cleaver, Thomas Paulo, Jack Bolembach, Barbara Sanchez, and James Scarcella, Joe Fernicola, an amateur herpetologist from Brooklyn who came to Clay Pit Ponds in 1972 to search for the rare Northern Fence Lizard, was also in attendance. Joe’s efforts in understanding the uniqueness of Clay Pit Ponds led to the formation of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods.
A special moment was when Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, adorned with an animal tie representing his love of nature, welcomed the guests and presented Ellen Pratt with a proclamation from the Borough President’s office. The Deputy Borough President spoke warmly of the group and recounted his experiences with Ellen over the years. September 22, 2015 was proclaimed Protectors of Pine Oak Woods Day by Borough President James Oddo.
Deputy Borough President Ed Burke presents Ellen Pratt with a proclamation from the Borough President’s office on the occasion of Protectors of Pine Oak Wood’s 40th anniversary celebration. Long-time board member and environmental advocate Ellen Pratt was singled out for special recognition.
Credit: MLM Public Relations